Bowser topples incumbent Gray in Democratic primary

Muriel Bowser won the city's Democratic primary with 44 percent of the vote. Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Muriel Bowser won the city’s Democratic primary with 44 percent of the vote. Jamie Finkelstein | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Updated: Wednesday, April 2 at 12:59 a.m.

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser toppled incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, raking in 44 percent of the vote.

The crowded race, which turned into a duel between Bowser and Gray in recent months, kicked off more than a year ago when Bowser became the first candidate to announce her bid for Gray’s seat.

“We wanted to launch a campaign across every ward and for every vote. I talked to people all over this city about what was important to them and what they wanted to see in their future,” Bowser said in a speech early Wednesday morning.

Gray, an alumnus, gathered 33 percent of the vote with about 71 percent of the precincts reporting. He started to drop in the polls after federal prosecutors accused him of knowing about a more than $600,000 shadow campaign that propped up his 2010 bid.

“This will not be an experience where we drift into the end of this administration. We are going to work very hard,” Gray said in a speech after he conceded defeat.

Bowser maintained a lead all night, with supporters at her Southeast D.C. watch party dancing and her family joining her on stage when she spoke. The Ward 4 Council member pulled in more than $1.3 million dollars for her campaign.

Gray won the Democratic primary in 2010 with about 54 percent of the vote, according to the D.C. Board of Elections website. He congratulated Bowser at about midnight, and now heads into a nine-month period as a lame duck.

If Bowser wins November’s general election, she would become the District’s first female mayor in about two decades.

“She takes the time to say, ‘I know you’re tired, but hang in there.’ I think that is one of the good things about having a woman leader. She is able to balance the toughness,” supporter Monica Ray said at the watch party.

Bowser has promised to improve middle schools by using top-performing school Alice Deal as a model across the city, create incentives to help senior citizens stay in their homes, attract young people with first-time homebuyer programs and appoint a deputy mayor for areas “east of the Anacostia River.”

“Change is about to happen. Not only to a single ward, but to D.C. as a whole. The whole city will change,” said Bowser supporter Walter Garcia at her watch party.

Jack Evans, the Council member who has represented Foggy Bottom for more than two decades, pulled in 5 percent of the vote. Evans also lost in the race for mayor in 1998, when he took 10 percent of the vote.

Evans, who left his election night watch party at Stoney’s Lounge on P Street at about 10:30 p.m., did not immediately return requests for comment.

Council member Tommy Wells pulled in about 12 percent of the vote, landing in third place.

Bowser will face David Catania, an independent at-large Council member, in November. Catania is also the chair of the Council’s education committee.

– Sam Morse, Rachael Gerendasy, Kristen Barnes, Brandon Lee and Laura Porter contributed reporting.

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